Thursday, 27 Jan 2022

UK is greatest country! Truss displays leadership credentials as pressure on Boris builds

Liz Truss says ‘we need to diversify our trade’

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The Foreign Secretary displayed her leadership credentials during a patriotic address at the Chatham House policy institute. The event came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a leadership crisis after shocking footage emerged on Tuesday night of Downing Street staff joking about an alleged Christmas party in Number 10 last December.

Speaking ahead of a summit of G7 counterparts in Liverpool, Ms Truss said the history of the British Empire cannot be ignored and the UK must embrace it.

She said: “It’s time to be proud of who we are and what we stand for. It’s time to dump the baggage holding us back.

“Our history – warts and all – makes us what we are today.

“Britain is the greatest country on earth. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, you can achieve your dreams.”

Ms Truss added: “So let’s stop fighting about the past, let’s start fighting for the future, because that’s what our adversaries are thinking about.

“They’re not thinking about what happened in the past in their countries, they’re busy out there with malign information on the internet, or threatening aggression, or using economic coercion to affect their goals.”

The appearance of Ms Truss today comes after the Government did not put up any ministers for the media rounds this morning following the Christmas party scandal.

In the footage obtained by ITV News, the Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton – who has since resigned – could be seen alongside other aides joking about a “fictional” Downing Street party as Britons were in lockdown.

A laughing Ms Stratton said: “This fictional party was a business meeting … and it was not socially distanced.”

The Prime Minister was forced to break the Government’s deafening silence in the Commons at noon as he issued an apology and launched an investigation.

Mr Johnson said: “I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures, and I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules because I was also furious to see that clip.

“I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country, and I apologise for the impression that it gives.

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“But I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, and that is what I have been repeatedly assured.”

The Prime Minister is now under considerable pressure – and some MPs have since called for his resignation.

A new Savanta ComRes found 54 percent of respondents thought the Prime Minister should resign.

A second Opinium poll found, 63 percent did not believe Mr Johnson’s account of what happened – just 12 percent believed he was telling the truth about the alleged rule-flouting party.

Mr Johnson batted away any suggestion that he would consider his future when asked by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford in the Commons.

Should any leadership challenge conspire against Mr Johnson, many believe the Foreign Secretary could be a potential successor.

Tory polls have ranked Ms Truss as the most popular member of the Cabinet throughout the last 12 months.

This follows her remarkable work securing Brexit trade deals during her time as International Trade Secretary before she was promoted to one of the Great Offices of State.

A league table published by Conservative Home in November put Ms Truss at the top with a score of 85.5 – in comparison Mr Johnson received just 19.7.

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